A Blur of Travel January 2020

Hello there! I had such grand goals of blogging daily about my year of compassion. I might be able to get back into the swing of things again, or I might just give myself some grace and blog when I can.

January was a pretty busy month for me. I traveled to California to hang out with my mom for a week and I went to Houston for a work trip. Both trips were really great but just threw off my schedule a bit.

As I wrote about in this post planning for the road trip to California was minimal but I was able to find lots of options on the road that worked for me. Major shoutout to Taco Bell!

My trip to Houston was a little more predictable and planned. I was able to load up on some oatmeal for breakfasts, vegan jerky for snacks, and fruit for snack. Overall, it was a little more difficult to find food on this trip. I was with a large group of people who were not vegan so I had to make things work.

Dinner the first night was at Chuy’s Restaurant. If I had more time with the menu I would have found other options. I settled for rice, beans, and tortillas for this meal. Not great but it was food.

I had my oatmeal for breakfast both days and was glad I made the effort to bring it. For lunch I convinced my boss to go to True Food Kitchen and had the best meal of the trip there. I had my snacks for the rest of the trip and stopped at Nekter as soon as I landed in Phoenix for something fresh and healthy.

My trip to Houston was a really great reminder for me to plan even more in advance. I have a trip coming up in February to Austin and I can do even better to bring food that will satisfy me when everyone wants to eat BBQ.

Despite all the travel in January it was a good month. We are making progress on redoing our backyard – we bought fruit trees yesterday! And I have been busy in the kitchen making new meals to share here. I am hopeful I will be back to share more tomorrow!

Use It Or Lose It – Day 2

Today’s blog post will be a pretty short one. I drove out to California to visit my mom today and I am pretty tired. I am happy to be out here and tomorrow I will post about being vegan on the road.

Yesterday was a pretty standard day. I went back to work after the holidays and went back to my roll of putting out fires. I work in a school and grades were due, so some drama!

For dinner last night I decided that I should use a lot of the veggies in the fridge that would go bad before I got back from California. I found a yellow pepper, purple cabbage, celery, cucumber, and arugula. I chopped all that up and dressed it with lime juice and balsamic vinegar. I added salt, pepper, basil, and garlic. I also made pasta noodles and threw it all togehter in a bowl!

I was going to make spagetti but realized we did not have any sauce or anything to make sauce so the chopped veggie pasta it was.

It was a super fast and easy mean but it tasted amazing!

This year one of the ways that I am practicing compassion is through self-compassion. I have been allowing myself to really enjoy my meals and eat until I am full. I will write a post about this more later, but I just want to say that it has been great eating and just enjoying my food!

That is all I have for today! I am going to hit the hay and hope to wake up a bit more recharged!

Thanks for reading!

Best Laid Plant Plans – Day 1

So here we are two days into 2020 and already I get to change the way I look at things. I knew that I wanted to be fully committed to a plant based vegan lifestyle for the whole of 2020. I was already pretty much there for 2019 but not fully. In November and December I committed again, but I was still pretty junk food vegan and eating too many processed foods for me.

I knew that starting on January 1st I was going to take things seriously. For me this meant that I needed to plan ahead so I didn’t just eat whatever was around when I woke up in the morning.

We invited a few friends over for New Years Eve and encouraged them to stay the night so they wouldn’t have to drive home. I spend most of the day on New Years Eve making food to share with our friends and to have ready for breakfast in the morning.

I meal prepped like a pro. I shredded potatoes for hash browns, prepped tofu for pesto scrambled tofu, and made a loaf of bread. The people who came over are lovely friends from Scott’s work. They know we are mostly plant based and only brought items with dairy which was pretty thoughtful.

I had very grand plans to make the most delicious vegan dishes. They would take a bite and be like this is sooooo good! And I would look at them and reply, its vegan! No one was privy to my grand ideas though and the night/day did no turn out like I thought.

I made these lovely fresh Spring Rolls and peanut sauce. I was so proud of them and thought they look great! I was like oh no I only made 10! That won’t be enough for the six people who came over. It was more than enough because only one guest tried one! I think they looked too healthy compared to all the chips and quesso. I had like three and I was so happy.

Spring rolls in brown rice paper and peanut dipping sauce.

The next morning I woke up and made breakfast for everyone. When I asked who wanted some they were all like “what is it?” I will just have potatoes and bread.

Like for real? Just potatoes and bread? Then I looked while they were eating and no one ate the potatoes other than my husband and I. I forgot that not everyone knows how good Turmeric is and I added like 1/2 teaspoon worth to the potatoes. Apparently, that was too much and people would not even try them. We took plates full of potatoes and bread crust, yes, they only ate the inside part of the bread, back to the kitchen.

The Turmeric Potatoes I made for NYE!

While all of this was happening I was seriously doubting my cooking skills. My plans to show some nice people how great plant based cooking could be was a flop!

While I was spiraling in a web of self-doubt and judgmental thoughts, I realized that I woke up with my first test of my compassion. I decided that this year I would be a more compassionate person. On January 1, 2020 at 9:30 am I was given my first opportunity. I am not going to brag about how kind I was or how I turned the situation around and got them to eat a head of broccoli. Cause that isn’t what happened.

Instead, I tried my best to let it go. I thought about the expectation I had placed on people who had not asked me to put that expectation on them. I had just decided that these guys whom I had only seen eat Litter Ceasar’s Pizza and Dairy Queen chicken fingers would be hyped to eat vegan on New Years.

The blue iced sugar cookies that helped me realize why my vegan food was not appealing to my SAD friends.

As I took their full plates into the kitchen I looked around at the leftover food they brought with them. Bags of Lays and Tostitos, ranch dip, iced blue sugar cookies. None of what they brought reflected a whole food.

In that moment I realized that if I am going to win anyone on a Standard American Diet over to eating just SOME plants I needed to up my game. Why start them with a tofu scramble? I was closer with the hash browns but they needed to be white and use some more oil. While I am not super keen on using a lot of oil, I am now considering it a tool in my quest to get people to eat more plants. I will up the fat, sugar, salt if I make anything for them again and slowly start to find a way to help them see that plants can be great.

I was really grateful to be reminded of how far I have come in my diet and to have some compassion for my friends who may not share my interest or knowledge on how great a plant based life is. My hope is renewed that I can share great food with friends and family and help them try something that might lead them down a more healthy path!

My Word for 2020: Compassion

Penny and I being so cool on New Year’s Eve!

Happy New Year! It is really crazy for me to wrap my head around the fact that it is 2020. When I was young I sat down and figured out when I could legally run for President of the United States. When I realized that i would be 35 in an election year I was all about that business. I made business cards announcing my candidacy with the slogan: Erica is the clear choice in 2020!

Well 2020 is here and I wanted to take this moment to announce my candidacy for President of the United States.

Joke!

Nine year old me would be rather disappointed in my lack of political aspirations. Maybe one day!

Enough of a trip down memory lane, its time to deal with what is actually happening in 2020.

I used to be a new year’s resolution person. I would sent goals, Do OK and then that was that. Nothing much changed and I can’t recall a resolution that I made in the past.

About five years ago I decided to

To change things up. I read or heard this idea about choosing a word that you want to live into for the upcoming year. Words that I have chosen in the past are Love, Freedom, and Reduce. The year was my word I met my husband (crazy and not the point!) In 2019 my word was Reduce and I was focused on reducing my plastic intake and impact on the world. I can share more of what I did in this arena here later.

This year I am choosing the word Compassion. I want to grow in my love, understanding, and action motivated by these things towards myself, others, and my world.

One of the ways I plan to do this is by going all in and living a vegan lifestyle. I have been mostly plant based for some time and It is just time to eat all the plants and help others learn why this is the most important way to live. As the Vegan Society says, “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” Living a life that is aimed at reducing cruelty and exploration seems like a wonderful place to grow in compassion

I plan to try a different theme each month that relates to Compassion. I am starting January with a bit of self-compassion which I will explain more tomorrow.

I hope to use this space to keep myself accountable, share what I have learned along the way, and remember to live a compassionate lifestyle.

Why Blog Again: Thankful for Today

I have been asking myself this a few times? Why come back to a space that you have such mixed feelings about? You used to blog every single day for three years. Then one day you decided you had enough of the hustle and the blog game and you quit. You took all your content down and moved on like it wasn’t something you invested your time, energy, and even money in. So why blog again?

The things I loved about blogging a few years ago are not things that are monetized or quantified. I loved looking at my past day and looking for things that made it worth of being written about. I could take the most basic event and write a long post about what it meant to me. I let the blog game get in the way of what I loved. I wanted to keep up with the lifestyle girls and their blogs. After a while I got over it and I burned it all to the ground, as it were.

I am here simply because I love to write. I love to think about myself and my day in healthy ways again and I want to have a place that feels semi-permeate to share who I am.

This time it will be different. I plan to write about what ever I want to each day. I hope that this space will be a positive one for me to return to each day.

So let’s get started!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. It was a really good one. Not good in the sense of a lot of people coming over, a huge meal, and all the food. But good in the sense that I did not end the day feeling stuffed or sad or like I had missed out on something. These are feelings that I have had in the past and I have worked to find why the holidays can be hard.

Yesterday, Scott, Penny and I decided to take a hike in the neighborhood. Since we had the whole day to ourselves we decided to try a loop trail we hadn’t been on before. It was a beautiful hike in red rock country. We did not have a time limit or a place we needed to get to. So we just walked for 2 hours. Our hike ended up being about five miles long.

Mid-hike on the Courthouse Butte loop trail.
Just one of the beautiful views of the day.
Beauty in the storm – Cathedral Rock in the distance.

This was the first time that we just make being outside in nature our priority for Thanksgiving which felt amazing.

After the hike we came home and I made some lentil pasta with kalamata olives and capers. One of my favorite things in the world is lentil pasta! Why not load up on some protine while eating one of my favorite dishes.

We then watched some TV and hung out around the house. Nothing fancy, just time together.

For dinner I made a jackfruit buffalo dip that was amazing. We had a good portion of veggies and tortillas with it. For dessert I made some simple peanut butter cookies while we started to decorate our Christmas tree.

Buffalo Jackfruit with veggies and tortillas.

I am so proud of our Christmas Tree! We decided to get a tree that we could plant after Christmas. We went to the nursery knowing we wanted something native to the Verde Valley that would take naturally to our backyard. We ended up getting a ice blue Arizona Cypress tree. It is legit beautiful and not something that I expected.

Our ice blue Arizona cypress tree!

As I said before yesterday was one of the first holidays that I felt satisfied with. I did not overeat. I was not worried with family drama. I made all of our food and it was all vegan. I loved having a Thanksgiving where giving thanks was the centerpiece of the day.

That is all I have for today. I will be back tomorrow!